Pair Bonding In Relation To Maslow’s Pyramid

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Published: 18th January 2011
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Recently I wrote an article titled, "Maslow’s Pyramid: Improve Your Relationship!" Now I want to go into further detail.





Did you know that love is not much more than chemical dependence? We can debate endlessly about opinions of love being associated with the soul or spirit. That love is an emotion, and emotions make us who we are, and that this is somehow tied to more than just brain chemistry. I prefer to look at it from a strictly scientific viewpoint, as I believe that is all that exists. Don’t mistake that for being a purely clinical viewpoint. I believe we feel what we feel. I just don’t add any hocus-pocus to that determination. Those who disagree should feel free to boycott all anti-depressants and psychiatric medications, as there is clearly something wrong with their soul, not their brain.








Let me introduce you to a mutual friend of ours, with a short summation from WikiPedia:





"Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone that acts primarily as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Also known as alpha-hypophamine (α–hypophamine), oxytocin has the distinction of being the very first polypeptide hormone to be sequenced and synthesized biochemically by Vincent du Vigneaud et al. in 1953.[1]


Oxytocin is best known for roles in female reproduction: 1) it is released in large amounts after distension of the cervixand uterus during labor, and 2) after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding. Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors.[2] For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "love hormone." [3]


The most prudent point for this writing, is the very last thing stated in that summation, "it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Love hormone’." The use of the term ‘Pair Bond’ is to generally describe monogamous, or mostly monogamous, relationships, both in humans and other mammals. Neurobiologicaly , Oxytocin plays a role in Pair, Maternal, Paternal, and even Human-animal bonding."








This chemical activates for different reasons, depending on the relationship. Maternally it is highly active during the process of giving birth, and further increased at breast feeding. Your brain is telling you to love this tiny being you birthed. Paternally the bonds tend to strengthen later in the child’s development, such as after speech has begun. Fathers bond more through playing and teaching, where a mother bonds more through nurturing. The same holds true for men and women when it comes to bonding with pets. (The differences in the reaction and causal of these chemicals in men and woman is an entire other post)





What you know as love is the effect of this chemical, Oxytocin, as well as others. Your brain craves it, and the loneliness you feel being without some form of companionship is simply withdrawal. If you are with partner, think about a few examples for me: Think about how much closer you feel after love-making. How much more do you love them when you can feel they actually desire you? When they understand you like no one else, or find your humour addictive, how much closer do you feel to them? Think about puppy love, too.








Allow me to show you how this all relates to Maslow’s Pyramid, from the bottom to the top of the triangle:





Physiological: There’s not much going on here. These are basic physical needs. Survival type exigencies.





Safety: Physical and mental protection. Mutual trust and honesty. Anything leading to building toward these items would release Oxytocin. Anything moving away from these will not, and will also hinder it’s release with items further up the pyramid.





Love: Love-making, companionship, intimacy, just to name a few. These are even greater Oxytocin producers for most people. Let us examine though, how these things work out if our pyramid is out of order. How much closer do you think you will grow to a person if you lack trust in them? Love-making becomes just sex, and going through motions. Intimacy is hindered with concerns over the lack of trust. Companionship moves away from a strong connection, into the realm of simple proximity.





Esteem: Mutual respect. Commitment honoring. Let me first, further define commitment honoring. Commitments are very wide-ranging. Basically, whatever your partner needs from you, you are committed to give to them. If you are married, you are even legally committed to providing them. Loving, honoring, and cherishing until death do you part is all encompassing. If your partner needs to feel desired physically, it is your duty to fulfill that for them. You do it, because without what a person feels they need being met, they are not able to maintain their self-esteem. Or they find other ways to get those needs met.





Again, let us think about what happens to esteem if we are lacking what is further down in the pyramid. I think you should be clearly understanding how this works by now, so I leave you to draw out your own conclusions here. Seriously, pause right here and examine the elements of the pyramid, and try to get an image of what happens to things higher up when the foundations beneath are lacking, or altogether missing.





Self-Actualization: This is the paramount of our triangle. This is the point at which you concentrate on your individual goals. This one is a given, in regards to the lower aspects of the pyramid. If you don’t provide your partner with what they need, your actions toward yourself alone are naught but selfish. You entered into the relationship, and in so doing are obliged to build that relationship and place it above self.








In meeting the goals of Maslow’s Pyramid you are inducing Oxytocin production and release all along. Just think of it as positives versus negatives. Positive actions and behaviors are more likely to cause the release of Oxytocin and other brain chemicals, more and more, thus leading to love. Negatives and neutralities give no boost at all.





It seems that many people work very hard to route the negatives our of their relationships. This is a good thing, and I would not say otherwise. I will say that what we need to watch out for are the neutral attitudes. Being in the middle, without passion, but also without grievances, is not a good thing. It can be easy to get wrapped up in life, and think your relationship is strong because there is no fighting or other negatives. Just coasting in neutral, or going through the motions, seems comfortable at the time, but only harbors resentment. Inaction can be just as harmful as negative action. There is no Oxytocin release in going through basic motions with your partner.








I think we all have the same basic brain chemistry, which makes these ideas universal. I also think there is some nuance. If there were no distinction, we would all like the same movies, paintings, music, etc. One of my favorites, for myself, is my wifes intellect and desire for research and understanding. I like to think I am the logical, and scientific-method-following one. Time and time again she shows me the reality. She shares with me her research into psychology, sociology, politics, etc. With this piece, and many others I have written, the idea starts with her. She gets my attention, and gets me interested in such topics. She inspires me to write, and express my own nuance thoughts. She gets my Oxytocin flowing

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